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Pregnancy Problems

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Infection

A CMV diagnosis is normally no big deal, but during pregnancy it can be devastating. We've got all answers to all your questions about CMV, including how to prevent it and what to do if you find out you have it.

What is cytomegalovirus (CMV) during pregnancy?

CMV is a virus that isn’t likely to be harmful to you, but could be extremely harmful to your baby.

What are the signs of CMV during pregnancy?

CMV often has the symptoms of a mild illness, like swollen glands or a low-grade fever, and sometimes has no symptoms at all.

Are there any tests for CMV during pregnancy?

Yes, a blood test can find out whether you carry antibodies to CMV. Urine tests, throat swabs and tissue samples can be used to diagnose an infection.

How common is CMV during pregnancy?

It varies. About 0.7 percent to 4 percent of pregnant women get CMV. And about 24 percent to 75 percent transmit the virus to their babies.

How did I get CMV?

CMV is transmitted through bodily fluids, so you must have come into contact with infected urine, saliva, breast milk or something else. CMV spreads easily in day care centers and in homes with young kids.

How will CMV affect my baby?

The virus can cross the placenta and infect the fetus — and it's been associated with a number of problems including blindness and deafness at birth. You'll be able to have your baby checked for congenital CMV infection at birth. If he has it, he should have regular hearing and vision exams, since problems can develop over time, even if he's healthy at birth. Luckily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 80 percent of babies born with CMV grow up without health problems related to the virus.

What’s the best way to treat CMV during pregnancy?

If you find out you have CMV, there unfortunately is no proven treatment at this time.

What can I do to prevent CMV?

The good news is that you can prevent getting CMV by avoiding bodily fluids of anyone who might be infected. If you've got another child and you're changing diapers (or potty training), be sure to wash your hands frequently.

What do other pregnant moms do when they have CMV?

“I learned at my 20-week ultrasound that my LO would not likely survive (multiple abnormalities on the ultrasound that we later found were due to cytomegalovirus exposure).”

“They determined my LO was profoundly deaf in one ear. We found out that she had cytomegalovirus in utero. I contracted it and passed it on to her. It’s pretty rare for someone to not have had the virus and have antibodies by adulthood, but apparently I did.”

Are there any other resources for CMV during pregnancy?

Congenital CMV Foundation

Stop CMV

Plus, more from The Bump:

Fever During Pregnancy

Blood Tests During Pregnancy

What to Know About High-Risk Pregnancy

By Dr. Ashley Roman